Laurence Fishburne was born Lawrence Fishburne (note the spelling change), on June 30, 1961 in Augusta, GA. During his long career, he has been known as Laurence Fishburne III, Lawrence Fishburne III, Larry Fishburne, and Lawrence Fishburne, though in 1991 he made the final decision to go as Laurence Fishburne.
At a very young age, Fishburne's parents divorced, and he moved with his mother to Brooklyn. He had always displayed a knack for acting, and it was then that his mother encouraged him to put his talents to use. He landed his first role in 1973, on ABC's soap opera "One Life to Live", and stayed there until 1976. In 1975, he landed his first film role as the 'me' in Cornbread, Earl, and Me.
In 1977, when he was only 16, Laurence Fishburne lied about his age and audtioned for a role in Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now. He was cast as Gunner's Mate 3rd Class Tyrone Miller, knicknamed 'Mr. Clean'. Filming and production took two years, and the movie was released in 1979. In addition to all the legendary problems that occurred during filming, Fishburne was also exposed to the heavy drinking and drugging habits of the adult actors between shooting days, which effectively caused him to say goodbye to his childhood.
Returning to Hollywood after the long shoot, Fishburne quickly discovered that the only roles available for black actors were as thugs and hoodlums, and so had many roles as such through most of the early 80's; however, in 1986, an opportunity to play a different sort of character presented itself in the form of Cowboy Curtis, best friend of Pee-Wee Herman in the children's show "Pee-Wee's Playhouse". Wanting the positive change from playing such hardened characters, he accepted the position. By the early 90's, more and more roles were available for black actors, and so Fishburne was able to escape the typical roles of his earlier career.
In addition to Apocolypse Now, Fishburne went on to act in such notable movies as Rumble Fish (1983); The Cotton Club (1984); The Color Purple (1985); School Daze (1986); King of New York (1990); Boyz N the Hood (1991); What's Love Got to Do With It (1993); Searching for Bobby Fischer (1993); Othello (1995); Hoodlum (1997); and The Matrix (1999). He also appeared in The Matrix Reloaded (2003) and The Matrix Revolutions (2003).
In addition to his many roles on television and in movies, Laurence Fishburn has had several experiences acting on stage. Among these have been the leading role of Sterling Johnson in "Two Trains Running" (1992) and England's King Henry II in "The Lion in Winter" (1999). He also wrote, directed, produced, and starred in the one-act play "Riff Raff" (1994), which sold out its entire New York City run, and was also a major hit in Los Angeles.
For his performances both on the small screen and the big screen, and also on stage, Laurence Fishburne has won and received nominations for many awards. They include: nominations for the Emmy, Golden Globe, and CableACE Awards in The Tuskegee Airmen, and also an NAACP Image Award for Best Actor; an Emmy award for his role in an episode of "Tribeca"; an Oscar nomination for Best Actor for his role as Ike Turner in What's Love Got to Do With It; an NAACP Image Award for Best Actor in Boyz N the Hood; and the Tony Award, a Drama Desk Award, an Outer Critics Circle Award, and a Theater World Award for his role as Sterling Johnson in Two Trains Running.
Laurence Fishburne, unlike many actors and actresses, does use his popularity and money to help out good causes. His most prominent is as a U.S. Fund Ambassador for UNICEF, which he has been active with since 1996. In his work, he associates with other well-known names, such as Maya Angelou, Katie Couric, Jane Curtin, James Kiberd, and Edward James Olmos, all U.S. Fund Ambassadors.
In 1985, Laurence Fishburne married Hajna O. Moss, with whom he had two children; a son, Langston, born in 1987, and a daughter, Montana, born in 1991. In the mid-1990's, Fishburne and Moss divorced; however, in 2001, Fishburne became engaged to Gina Torres, and they were married in 2002.
In addition to being a prolific actor, Laurence Fishburne has also had experience in writing, directing, and producing films. For Laurence Fishburne's complete filmography, check the IMDB.